Thursday, April 20, 2006
The Standards Board for England Should be Abolished
Since its creation by New Labour in the late 1990s the Standards Board for England has proved to be a complete disaster. It was set up ostensibly to police cases of alleged misconduct in local government, but has become a byword for witchhunts and the usurpation of local democracy. Ridiculous complaints are made to the Board and are invariably thrown out without any investigation whatsoever, but others are taken to extremes. In North Norfolk a situation has developed where the town of Holt now has no elected representation on North Norfolk District Council because the Standards Board has banned Independent councillors Mike Baker and Ron Stone. Stone is so outraged by his six month ban that he has resigned and caused a by-election. Baker may now follow suit. Without going into the whys and wherefores of their positions (they are both, shall we say, strong minded characters - Stone insulted the council chief executive and Baker allegedly spoke at a planning meeting which was considering an application by a company he was associated with) we really do need to ask what right this quango has to interfere with local democracy in this way. The Ken Livingstone case recently demonstrated that it is quite willing to leave people without the elected representation they voted for. This is not democracy. It's diktat by Quangocracy. The Standards Board for England should be abolished as soon as possible. It should remain a Conservative manifesto commitment - and hopefully will become a Labour one too!